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  • Writer's pictureKate

How to make it through the holidays

This is a very busy and emotional time, at the end of a year when we jumped back into life full-time after being in various forms of shutdown for two years. That is the equivalent of sitting on your sofa for a year, running a marathon, and then having to do hurdles for the last 400 meters. It has its ups and downs, and it is hard and exhausting, drawing on superficial rather than saved up energy supplies. So, as always, I encourage you to ASC: be AWARE, SLOW down, and take CARE of yourself.

How do you help yourself do all that? Be AWARE: notice when you're feeling something intense or negative and be curious -- where is that sitting in my body?, when did it start?, what changed between when I was feeling okay and how I'm feeling now? This gives you good clues as to what is causing the issues, which enables you to address them. Knowing what the problem is, and starting a plan to deal with it is a wonderful way to reduce anxiety and worry: "buying those stocking stuffers at Target made me feel stressed out, so I'm worrying over spending money, so I'm going to go home and make a new holiday budget."

SLOW down: saying "yes" to everything is fun, but don't neglect the delicious delight of saying NO and giving yourself an evening off. Stay home, light a candle, give yourself a foot massage, get under the best blankies, binge watch Slow Horses, Downton Abbey, Atlanta;

or free Christmas movies; A Charlie Brown Christmas is available to everyone for free on Apple TV+ Dec. 22 through Dec. 25. The Grinch is on TNT Thurs 12/15 @ 7:30 and on NBC Fri 12/23 @ 8:00.

Take CARE of yourself: always remember the restorative power of a few deep breaths. This works because you cannot pay attention to the in-the-moment sensation of your breath while also worrying about the future or ruminating on the past. Think of a three-part breath, where you're trying to fill from your 1) belly to 2) lungs to 3) all the way up to your collarbones! Hold for a second, then breathe it all out, including stress and worries, with an exhale that lasts longer than the inhale. That is a (weird but true!) way to kick on your relaxation response, the parasympathetic nervous system. Do a body scan and notice where the tension is, breathe into that area. Ground yourself by checking in on what your five senses are noticing. Pay attention to how your feet may feel warm and cozy in their socks and boots, and how the ground or your seat feels solid and supportive beneath you. Practice one of these calm-down responses every time you take a new seat, or are at a red light. This makes them easier to remember and more useful when you are stressed out and really need them.

And remember: no one is ever responsible for another adult's entertainment or happiness. You don't need to fix anyone.


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